Nigerian airlines lose N54bn to flight cancellations, bird strike

Posted by News Express | 24 February 2022 | 443 times

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•AirPeace MD, Allen Onyema


The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), the body representing indigenous airline owners, yesterday denied raising airfares.

Vice president of AON, Mr Allen Onyema, who was flanked by the President, AbdulMunaf Yunusa Sarina, and other members, also justified the recent adjustment in airfares across their sectors just as the operators debunked the insinuation that the group met to fix airfares.

Onyema who briefed newsmen at the end of the AON general meeting held at its secretariat inside the Murtala Muhammad Airport terminal two (MMA2) insisted that the operators did not raise fears, saying the N50,000 base fare has always been on airlines’ website.

He said, “We want to state clearly that the Airline Operators of Nigeria never got together to increase their base fare. We debunk that insinuation that the airlines got together to fix prices.

“The N50,000 you have seen on our inventory has always been there for the last five years. During Christmas time, the period of December, you noticed that the base fare going to certain areas of the country would be N60,000, N70,000. Airlines didn’t come together to decide on that.”

Daily Trust reports that there has been an outcry from members of the flying public over the increment in airfare with a one-way economy ticket costing over N50,000.

However, in justifying the increment, Onyema said the cost of operation by airlines had risen significantly in recent times.

He said, “In the same vein, Jet A1 has risen from N200 per litre to N430 per litre. It is only a very stupid businessman that would not know there is fire on the mountain.

“The Ground Handling Companies increased their charges by 300 per cent and they got together to do that. They went to the National Assembly and it has been approved for them.

“So if the cost of my operation, all of a sudden, has gone up by 300 per cent, just from the ground handling services alone, what do I do?

“If the cost of aviation fuel has risen by over 200 per cent within a month, what should I do? If the cost of forex (foreign exchange) has risen from N340 to N585, what should I do? Gentlemen, don’t forget airline business is dollarised. Everything is in dollars. Do you want to fall out of the sky or fly safely in Nigeria?

“Foreigners have been asking questions about how you people maintain your plane with the kind of fare you charge in Nigeria.

“In the year 2000, the lowest fare in Nigeria was N2,200 which was equivalent to $100 then. Now 22 years down the line, Nigerian airlines, we were charging less than $30, $40. Do you need to look for reasons why airlines are closing shops in this country? Over 50 airlines have closed down in this country. Has anybody bothered to find out why?”

He further disclosed that the operators had lost over N20bn to flight delays and cancellations in the last year.

The operators in the same vein said they lost $60m (N34.5bn at N575 to a dollar) due to bird strikes suffered by their aircraft in the last year, adding that the trend of bird strikes is on the increase.

Itemising some of the reasons for flight delays and cancellations, Onyema said the issue of bird strike which usually grounds aircraft had continued unabated despite the much publicised wildlife control measures by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

Onyema, who is also the Chairman of Air Peace, stated that 98 per cent of the reasons for flight delays was not caused by the operators but due to several extraneous factors not within their purview.

He said airlines had become so demonised with many passengers emboldened to assault their staff, adding that operators had resolved not to take lightly any assault of their staff again.

He said it was not in the best interest of any airline to delay or cancel flights, and it costs a huge sum of money in terms of refunds for flights cancelled.

The operators also opposed the multiple designations recently granted Qatar Airways and Ethiopian Airlines, saying this would stagnate the growth of Nigerian airlines.

“The multiple designations will continue to deplete our national treasury and inhibit the growth of domestic airlines,” he said.(Daily Trust: Excludes headline)


Source: News Express

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